US Secret Service chief quits over security breaches

The US Secret Service director resigned on Wednesday, paying the price for a string of security lapses by the elite presidential protection branch, including one in which an armed intruder ran into the White House.

Julia Pierson stepped down a day after enduring a withering public grilling by lawmakers, who pronounced themselves baffled at failures by Secret Service agents, another of which saw an armed former felon get on an elevator with President Barack Obama.

Pierson had been brought into the agency as a new broom after the reputation of its sharp-suited agents took a hit from drinking and prostitution scandals.

But she leaves with the Secret Service facing searching questions from critics who have even warned the lives of the president and his family are not safe, due to several high-profile failures.

Pierson resigns under pressure

Bowing to rising political pressure, Pierson offered her resignation and it was accepted by Homeland Security Secretary Jeh Johnson.

Johnson appointed Joseph Clancy – who formerly headed the presidential protection branch of the Secret Service as an interim replacement.

An independent panel will be named to probe a Sept 19 incident, which saw knife-carrying homeless US army veteran Omar Gonzalez allegedly jump the White House fence and run into the residence.

Gonzalez pleaded not guilty on Wednesday to three counts including unlawfully entering a restricted building or grounds with a deadly or dangerous weapon. - AFP

Related reports: 

White House intruder was further in than reported: Secret Service whistleblower

800 rounds of ammunition found in the car of White House intruder

Watch intruder running into White House grounds